High School Sports

Bluffton boys secure spot in Lower State finals

The uh-oh factor.

That's how Davis Goodrich described the feeling of a tennis player playing with his back to the wall.

The uh-oh factor fueled Aaron Newland on Tuesday afternoon. And he made history for Bluffton High School.

Bluffton's No. 5 singles player, Newland outlasted Goodrich in a two-hour match to clinch the Bobcats a 4-2 victory against Camden and send them to the Class 3-A Lower State finals for the first time in school history.

"The pressure was really on," Newland said. "... We both wanted it so bad. We were both giving everything we had, and we didn't want to lose."

Newland nearly did -- twice -- with his teammates pinned against the chain-link fence surrounding his court.

Each time he was cornered, though, he struck back. Goodrich won the first set and jumped out to a 6-5 lead in the second set. He earned a match point -- the first of three -- but Newland fought it off by winning the match's longest rally.

Newland eventually won the second set to force a third-set super tiebreaker, in which the first player to 10 points -- with at least a two-point lead -- takes the match. Again, Goodrich led most of the way and earned two more match points at 9-7, only to watch as Newland won the next four points to earn the victory.

Bluffton handed Camden (19-1) its first loss of the season.

"You don't want to play two hours and lose," Goodrich said before smiling. "I'm sure I'll remember this one."

The Bobcats (16-2) are certain to remember it fondly as part of a record-setting season.

They have won the first two playoff matches in program history and will try to qualify for the state finals Thursday, when they host the Lower State championship, a match in which Bobcats coach Bob Brown expects his team to be the underdog.

"We have no expectations, except we're going to be loose and see where it takes us," Brown said. "I'm out of coaching tools now. We got the horses ready -- now we'll see how far they can run."

They came out ready Tuesday. Chris Davis got the first win of the afternoon at No. 2 singles, a 6-2, 6-4 win.

Diego Garcia and Zack Rardon followed suit. They paired to win the No. 2 doubles match 6-4, 6-4 in what Brown called the duo's best match of the season.

"I think Chris stepped up and played the match of his year, as well," Brown said. "He set the whole thing up with that win."

With the team score knotted at 2, Davis Rosenblum picked up the Bobcats' third win, a come-from-behind victory in a third-set super tiebreaker that gave Newland a chance to make history.

Newland won his marathon match some 45 minutes later.

"I wasn't losing that," he said. "I had to get this done. I had to pull through, and I made it. Now we're in the finals."

The Bobcats host Chapin (20-2) in Thursday's Lower State final. Chapin defeated Myrtle Beach, 6-0, on Tuesday.

Bluffton 4, Camden 2

Singles: No. 1 JoJo Tiller (C) def. Spencer Sasko 6-0, 6-0; No. 2 Chris Davis (B) def. Roderick Todd 6-2, 6-4; No. 3 Micah Thomas (C) def. Richard Snyder 6-2, 6-3; No. 4 Davis Rosenblum (B) def. Nelson Semple 5-7, 6-3, 10-7; No. 5 Aaron Newland (B) def. Davis Goodrich 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 11-9.

Doubles: Diego Garcia/Zack Rardon (B) def. Bryan Williams/Ben Goodrich 6-4, 6-4.

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